A collection of photographs, recipes and stories from the Canadian wilderness.
Canada is a huge and diverse country. Consequently, its cuisine is informed by a variety of influences including First Nations, French, English and Scottish, so I was excited to finally see a Canadian cookbook.
In this collection of around 50 recipes, we find the usual Canadian treats we expect including poutine, Nanaimo bars and lobster rolls. These are joined by lesser known, and possibly less indigenously Canadian dishes, but which use ingredients such as maple syrup, corn and copious seafood.
As a book, Taste the Wild is more about the Canadian countryside than it is about the food. The recipes themselves are all easy-to-make and tasty, but there is nothing here that would set the culinary world on fire. Much of the 190 pages is taken up with beautiful photographs, and extracts from writers such as Margaret Atwood and Charles Dickens.
The first dish I chose to make was the One-pot Mac & Cheese on page 72.
Mac & Cheese is a favourite in my house and I am always happy to try new recipes. The fact that this is all made in one pot (the name is a bit of a giveaway…) really attracted me. The less dishes to wash the better! When I went to make this, I discovered to my horror that I had no macaroni. In keeping with the spirit of wild adventure, I used spiralli instead. This substituted well, except that it required far more liquid than the original recipe called for. The amounts given would be perfect for actual macaroni. The dish itself was tasty and filling, although no flavour explosion. The basic idea is a great one, which I will continue to play around with in my life-long mission to eat pasta every which way.
The second dish I tried was the French-Canadian staple, Tourtiere on page 75.
Almost every country, particularly of Western background, has some kind of mince pie in its culinary stable. Tourtiere is a Quebecan dish and is particularly served around Christmas time, so seemed an apposite choice Although tourtiere can have any one of a variety of fillings, this recipe uses beef and pork mince, and leeks. A simple, country pie, it is dead easy to make, especially as it uses pre-made filo pastry. The caraway seeds on top add both visual interest and subtle flavour. The family all declared this delicious and,as a bonus, it is a very economical dish. The addition of some mashed potato and steamed greens turns this simple pie into a feast.
Some of the other dishes I’m keen to make include the Clam Chowder, Cedar Plank Salmon Fillet and Maple Cheesecake with Strawberries.
Taste the Wild is a delightful read. As cookbooks go, it is a charming, everyday collection of recipes. Design and layout are pleasing enough to the eye, but it is certainly no high-end publication. The RRP seems a little steep in the circumstances.
This is a solid addition to the family meal collection but possibly not a gift for the foodie on your list. It would however, make a great gift for the Canadaphile or the adventure traveller who also doesn’t mind knocking up the odd Nanaimo bar!
Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Distributed by: Murdoch Books
Released: September 2019